All lawmakers should study the Draft Interfaith Commission of Malaysia Bill 2005 for the sake of religious harmony in the country

Press Statement
Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Petaling Jaya,  Tuesday): In the interest of religious harmony and peace for the nation, a concerned group of citizens representing different faiths have come together in Bangi on February 24-25, 2005 to explore the feasibility of forming an interfaith commission in Malaysia. Their persistence, determination and hard work finally came to fruition in the form of the Draft Interfaith Commission of Malaysia Bill 2005(

The brains behind the noble project must be rightfully commended for such an effort would not be possible without true conviction and extraordinary courage. They must also be prepared to go through a baptism of fire.

And true enough. The movers behind the process have been labelled as blasphemers and troublemakers soon after the Bangi conference. Even the Cabinet Minister who came to give his support was under attack by his peers and some overzealous self- proclaimed religious scholars.

I pray for senses to return to these narrow minds and hope that this great effort would finally bear fruits for the good of religious harmony in the country.

I sincerely urge all Members of Parliament and other lawmakers to study the Draft Bill with great care and deep interest. We are confident that those who care to read and understand the Draft Bill will eventually see the wisdom of forming an interfaith commission in the country.

With the formation of an interfaith commission, a statutory body whose primary objective would be to advance, promote and protect every individual’s freedom to thought, conscience and religion with a view to harmonious co-existence in our society, we believe it would certainly go a long way in preventing Malaysians of different faiths from entangling in ugly disputes arising from misunderstanding, suspicion and mistrust. There is no need for me to quote any examples to highlight the need of religious harmony. There were simply too many disheartening cases and sad stories for you and I to recall.

DAP has been trying its very best to preserve religious harmony for decades. The party respects and upholds Islam as the official religion, and all other religions could be practised freely in the country. We are firm believers of religious freedom and harmony.

The party has always been in the forefront to protect individual’s freedom of religion in our multi-religious society. From seventies to eighties, our party leaders have courageously checked the wave of Islamisation. We have called for the formation of an interfaith council inside and outside of Parliament. And we have categorically said no to Islamic State, whether ala UMNO or ala PAS in the nineties.

Malaysians can certainly live happily together without the “holier than thou” attitude and the meaningless argument on the superiority or supremacy of certain religions.  

After all, Malaysian peoples were peace-loving by nature. We should have sufficient basis and confidence to push for greater understanding and respect for each other’s religion.

The establishment of Interfaith Commission of Malaysia is certainly good for harmonious co-existence, which was integral to the happiness, welfare and prosperity of the Malaysian people.


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP International Secretary and NGO bureau chief